Crystal Palace (1) 2 Arsenal (0) 2
Selhurst Park, London SE25
Sunday, 28th October 2018. Kick-off time:1.30pm
(4-2-3-1) Leno; Bellerín, Mustafi, Holding, Xhaka; Torreira, Guendouzi; Iwobi, Özil, Aubameyang; Lacazette.
Substitutes: Cech, Sokratis, Ramsey, Lichtsteiner, Mkhitaryan, Welbeck, Smith-Rowe.
Scorers: Xhaka, Aubameyang
Yellow Cards: Lichtsteiner, Guendouzi
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Another lunchtime kick-off on a Sunday, another match in London, another derby away from home. This time we meet Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park, a ground where we have traditionally done well, losing only once in a Premiership match there since they returned to the top flight back in season 2013-14. Two of our most famous players in the past 40 years have arrived to us from The Eagles (or The Glaziers, depending on how far back you started supporting them), namely future Arsenal and England skipper Kenny Sansom in 1980, and the legendary Ian Wright, our second highest goalscorer of all time, who signed for The Gunners in 1991. He scored 185 goals from 288 appearances, before leaving us for West Ham United in 1997.
Of course, we started slowly, as per usual. And as per usual there were several heart attack moments in the first quarter of an hour or so, which only meant that Crystal Palace started to grow in confidence as the first half wore on. Although we had chances to score (which we criminally wasted), the back line struggled at times as the opposition started to get more and more physical, and as they did, our defence were unable to contain them adequately. And again an individual error led to disaster. Almost on the stroke of half-time, Shkodran Mustafi made a very clumsy tackle on the Palace attacker in the penalty area; of course he went to the ground, of course it was a penalty and of course The Eagles scored. When will we ever learn from our mistakes?
Guess what? Six minutes into the second half, we redressed the balance with an absolutely fantastic goal, worthy of one that would win a cup final. After Lucas Torreira was brought down with a hasty challenge from a Palace defendeer on the edge of the box, Granit Xhaka perfectly struck a beautiful free-kick into the top corner of the goal, via the post. Now we have a purpose. Being on the ascendancy for the first time in the match, we pressurised the Palace goal relentlessly, and within five monutes of the equaliser, we took the lead with a controversial goal, which, to tell the truth, should have not been given. Granit Xhaka took a corner, Alexandre Lacazette unbelievably had his arm in the air, and unfortunately ball went to hand that enabled it to change flight, enough so for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to bundle the ball over the line. Chaos then ensued, with a vengeful Crystal Palace bringing the game to us with some urgency. An angry Mesut Özil (who flung his gloves on the floor in disgust as he left the pitch) was substituted for Danny Welbeck, and in turn ten minutes later Aaron Ramsey replaced Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in order for Arsenal to regroup and consolidate in order to ensure the three points. Alas, it was not to be. Another controversial moment, another penalty decision against us. Less than ten minutes from full-time, Granit Xhaka stuck a leg out towards an attacking Palace striker in the penalty area; quite naturally the forward went to ground quickly, and just minutes later Crystal Palace scored from the penalty spot to make the final score being an exhausting two-all draw.
For Arsenal, this match was a disappointment to say the least. We still do not learn our lessons with regards to the defence, and although it was unfortunate for us not to continue the winning run, it may just be that it could be a blessing in disguise. Going into the Liverpool match next weekend, we now know how it feels to have victory snatched from us, so it could just be that this could be the impetus for us to win in front of our supporters. The proof will definitely be in The Emirates pudding come full-time on Saturday evening. We’ll see. Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as these early days are going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners. Victoria Concordia Crescit.
Too Dearly Loved To Be Forgotten: Arsenal v Racing Club de Paris 1930-1962 by Steve Ingless (Rangemore Publications, ISBN 978-1-5272-0135-4) is now available on Amazon.